Created last November to protect and promote the region's independent-dining scene, the Originals' membership ranges from cozy neighborhood taverns to swank downtown salons. But while their clientele might vary, the member restaurants are united in their fight against big, corporate-owned chains, which drain dollars from the local economy while recasting the experience of dining out as an exercise in predictability.
Food fans who agree that the world will not be a better place when Little Italy has an Olive Garden will have a chance to show their support for locally owned and operated restaurants during Dine Original Week (November 14-20). During that time, nearly 30 restaurants, including such heavy hitters as One Walnut, Flying Fig, Theory, and Fire, will offer specially designed, three-course dinners for a mere $30.40. (A complete lineup of participating dining rooms can be found at www.clevelandorginals.com.)
The Originals will spend November 14 cooking up the gustatory bargain of the year. Fine chefs from Cleveland and around the country (provided by the Originals' parent org, the Council on Independent Restaurants of America) will present a six-course dinner at Moxie (3355 Richmond Road, Beachwood). The feast will begin with hors d'oeuvres, move on to butternut-squash ravioli, pause for seared ahi tuna with Honeycrisp apples, continue with quail-stuffed pork carnitas on green-corn tamale pie, proceed to gaucho steak with chimichurri sauce, and conclude (whew!) with Divine Madness Flourless Chocolate Cake, served with espresso ice cream. Matching wines will accompany each course, and at $85 per person (tip not included), the meal's a steal. The event begins at 6:30 p.m.; call the restaurant at 216-831-5599 for reservations.
And on November 20, the Originals will join other independent businesses across the nation to mark America Unchained Day, during which all of us are urged to spend our bucks at locally owned operations. Quoting studies cited by the New Rules Project of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, Originals' prez Sergio Abramof points out that buying goods from independent businesses generates as much as 3.5 times more local economic activity than buying from the chains.
Imagine there's no Wal-Mart . . .